Humans of Granby

Print More
Lauren Yarger
Theater critic, playwright
and producer

Member of Drama Desk
Outer Critic’s Circle, NY and CT

Age: 57
Tell about your job…
I cover Broadway and off-Broadway shows in New York City along with Connecticut professional theater. I write critiques for the Bushnell, Goodspeed, Westport Playhouse, Theater works, Hartford Stage and playhouses in New Haven. My busiest season is the spring, then summer and fall. Winter is quieter as often the venues are having seasonal productions. Recently, I attended an off-Broadway play called, The Treasurer, and completed its write-up. I did the same for a classic stage production of As You like It.
Come from Away was one of my favorite shows last year. I liked the messages it presented, especially that mankind will find a way to reach out in time of great need. The story was about a little town in Newfoundland and it reminded me of the people in Granby. It showed how people going about their everyday life had to drop everything and help out so that those stranded on the planes that landed there could be fed and taken care of. (This story is about planes full of passengers that had to land in Gander, Newfoundland order to clear airspace on 9/11). Everyone who has seen this play liked it. People come out of the theater filled with positive emotions. One of my friends went to see it and then called me and said, “Lauren, you didn’t warn me!” because she became quite emotional while watching the show. There were some other really good musicals last year and this made for a lot of competition. Part of the appeal was that some productions, especially Come from Away, were based on true stories. For this show’s initial performance the actual people from Gander came to watch the actors portray the events they had lived through.
What is the most challenging part of being a theater critic?
It is difficult to be completely fair at times. I must be truthful. Theater tickets are very expensive and audiences need and want to know a bit about what they are coming to see. If I show disappointment, I am very careful to give a thorough explanation of my viewpoint. From having written plays myself I know that playwrights are sensitive and one must tread lightly. Oftentimes, though, writers are glad for feedback from a reliable source. I have to walk the line between harsh, unjustified criticism and the mother who loves everything a certain author writes. Critics as a whole tend to be in line with each other’s thinking; it is rare that they are far off base. A number of playwrights do learn from the pieces we write.
What is something you are currently involved in?
I enjoy my time as a playwright and I am busy forming a theater company with a partner. I have been writing an adaptive autobiography of Jennifer O’Neill. You may remember her from the film, Summer of ’42. She was a model, cover girl and still is an actress. Recently her mother passed away and this, of course, has had an impact on her life story. I know Jennifer and also knew her mother personally; this will truly be a sad part.
How would you describe Granby to someone who has never been to New England?
Small town. Very rural in nature. People who live here are nice, caring individuals. It is not necessarily a typical New England town with a downtown that has antique shops, seafood shacks and ocean water.
Granby is quiet and peaceful. I love the signs on the town green and feel that people here are very willing to come to the aid of others. Visually, it has five roads that converge in what would be termed the epicenter of the town. Near this epicenter are plenty of older homes, (100-plus years old). There aren’t any sidewalks and the best features of the town are rather spread out. By that I mean its shops, vineyards, horse farms, etc.
Although it has this rural nature the people are essentially quite sophisticated as one can easily get to Hartford, New York or Boston from Granby. This is what makes our town quite unique. I myself can commute to New York on Metro North railroad and then come home to a quiet, relaxed town. It is not a suburb but a town that truly has its own identity.
To read Lauren’s reviews, visit